Setting up the perfect home office

For many of us setting up the perfect home office similar to those you see on the TV and in stock photos with bright lighting and loads of space is anything but true. The reality is probably a laptop balanced on our knees while sitting on the sofa or a kitchen table that’s too high with a chair that’s too low.

This reality can be made much better with a little thought, some forwards planning and a few adjustments. In this post I’m going to write about simple, ways we can make our initial home office set up better so that you won’t need my free advice on helping you manage through the covid 19 virus or need an online video consultation.

Finding the best place.

When I set up my home office the problems or potential problems could be measured by 3 main things;

  1. Is there enough room?
  2. Is it comfortable?
  3. Lighting and power?

I go through these points in more detail below and how to make the each situation. 

Have You Tried These Home Office Solutions?

Sitting on the sofa with the laptop on our knees looks good in films but the reality is the sofa isn’t very good. The first thing you 

Where’s the best place to have your home office?  When the kids were younger the bedroom with the door closed felt like the best place. The sitting on the toilet was another favourite place. Neither of them were anything like perfect, but they were the best of a bad choice. The bedroom option can be improved very simply.

Now the kids are older I have other options. A little fold away table in the hall. The living room and the kitchen. All could possibly be the perfect home office for you.

Office in the Hall

Some of you will have a place in your hall where you can put a table or desk. I’ve seen the area under stair converted to great home offices, but unfortunately this space isn’t usable in my house. I do have a place at the top of the stairs that did sort of work..

I tried this with a little fold up table and to be honest it wasn’t bad but, it wasn’t good.

I could get a chair in and work for a bit, but found two main problems,

  1. The table wasn’t big enough. I fixed this by screwing a piece of timber to give a larger work surface. A better work surface, but it it also made it a worse place to be.
  2. I was now in the way of people walking past. It didn’t work for me, but maybe this is the place for you?

The Bedroom Office

The bedroom was quiet. No one walked passed and disturbed me, but the trouble was, sitting on the bed got uncomfortable very quickly.

I found it led to stiff necks, tight shoulders and a sore low back. 

Not great if you need to spend hours working.  There are ways to fix this though. Sliding a board under my low back while sitting, supported my low back and made it feel easier, but it increased the demand placed on my shoulders and neck. This made them fatigue faster leading to them aching sooner.

Kneeling or sitting in front of the bed worked far better. I borrowed a method from yoga to make this more adaptable and decrease the stresses and strains on my low back, hips, buttocks/pelvis and knees. This meant I could sit for far longer.

What I did was I sat on a cushion or a couple of pillows to raise my bottom up enough to make it comfortable. Kneeling in this way also gave me room to rest a pad down either on the bed next to the laptop, or on the floor  when I need to write (it was also far safer for coffee cups this way as well).

The Living Room Home Office

The problems with the living room office are similar to the bedroom office. The limitations of working on the sofa are similar to trying to work on the bed. Sitting at a computer or tablet on the sofa is never ideal. The position can often feel like it pushes your body beyond what it’s capable of. Leaving you with sore neck and shoulders, low back.

Small changes can be made to reduce the over use that your muscles and ligaments are going through including using pillows or cushions for support.  Exercises can be done during the day to promote movement and decrease sensitivity. 

Longer term specific prescribed exercise will help your strength and stamina leading to less over work of weaker anatomical structures.

The Kitchen Office

In my house the kitchen table became my office. A dining table is the same idea and plenty of people use a kitchen work surface as their desk although a higher chair may be needed for the work surface.

It may sound silly but it’s also worth considering where  on the table you sit. One end of my table gets a lot of traffic past it as it’s practically in the doorway. The side gets lots of light, bit it also gets glare of the screen, which can potentially lead to headaches.

The end I plumped for isn’t perfect, but it’s probably the best in the house. The biggest downside strangely enough for the west of Scotland is the sun. For a few hours everyday when it’s sunny the sun shines right into my eyes. I did fix this simply and cheaply; I put on a cap. 

Having an office in the kitchen does have it’s benefits. the kettle is close by. The fridge is behind me and my furry coworker has his basket on the floor next to me.

To make my kitchen work-space even more convenient I have plug sockets next to me to charge my laptop and plug in a lamp. I have a pin board on the wall for my lists and a handy self for stationary and reference material. In short, while it’s not pretty, my kitchen space makes the perfect home office for me.